Saving Edwin

Saving Edwin
Photo: Edwin Chen

Eight hours after a crowdfunding campaign was launched here on Aug 29, it received over $10,000 in donations.

Within 24 hours, the amount had jumped to $21,000.

The cause: A 25-year-old Singaporean who was told that without treatment, he would have only six months to live.

The beneficiary of the #SaveEdwinChen campaign is Mr Edwin Chen, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) on July 11.

The campaign was launched on Give.asia at http://give.asia/movement/save_edwin_chen.

AML is a type of blood cancer that occurs when one's bone marrow create blood cells that function abnormally. 

Mr Chen was stunned when he got the diagnosis.

He told The New Paper at the Singapore General Hospital, where he is warded: "I was confused and in disbelief. Is this real? Why was this happening to me?"

He was worried that he would not be able to afford the $50,000 needed for the treatment.

But when Mr Chen met Mr Ray Goh, the owner of a start-up in the food and hygiene industry, through a mutual friend, there was renewed hope.

Mr Goh persuaded Mr Chen to turn to crowdfunding to raise money for his treatment.

Mr Goh said: "He told me, 'I want to live. Can you help me?' So I said yes."

Before he was diagnosed with cancer, Mr Chen had worked for two months as a marketing event coordinator.

His savings came to less than $2,000 and he had only $800 in his Medisave account.

His father is self-employed and his mother is a part-time waitress.

While Mr Chen thought of starting with $5,000 as a goal, Mr Goh convinced him that it would be possible to fund the full $50,000 needed for the treatment.

Mr Goh, 29, had earlier participated in a similar crowdfunding campaign and he used that experience to help Mr Chen.

Mr Chen said: "I was afraid that people would be sceptical. After all, I'm not someone famous. I'm not the only person with leukaemia."

But when the campaign was launched, the response was overwhelming.

As of yesterday at 10pm, $29,000 has been contributed by 323 donors.

Mr Chen was surprised by the response from donors and was "grateful that there's so much love in the world".

DONATED

National serviceman Keven Lee said he donated $10 because he empathised with Mr Chen's situation. T he 20-year-old said: "I have an incurable autoimmune disease and treatment costs lots of money. So I know how much it costs for chemotherapy. A kind act also will help me in my life."

Mr Chen, who has two older sisters - one is a primary school teacher and the other is still studying - had sought financial assistance through a medical social worker at SGH, but he was worried the subsidy would not cover the hospital bills.

He is expected to complete his chemotherapy by January next year.

Mr Goh, who is still overseeing the fundraising campaign, said: "Don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't shy away from people who need help.

"If there is a fellow Singaporean who is willing to reach out for help, we should."

The New Paper spoke to Dr Melissa Ooi, a consultant with the Department of Haematology-Oncology of the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) about Mr Edwin Chen's condition:

WHAT IS ACUTE MYELOID LEUKAEMIA?

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is a type of acute leukaemia. When patients have leukaemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal blood cells. These abnormal cells, called leukaemia cells, grow out of control, get into the blood and travel around the body. These cells do not function normally and may collect in certain parts of the body and produce a growth.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AML?

The bone marrow of a leukaemia patient does not create the blood cells they would normally need. So the symptoms include fevers, persistent fatigue, or bruising and bleeding.

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF RECOVERY FOR A PATIENT WITH AML?

If the patient undergoes treatment for the AML, there is a chance of cure. The survival rate varies. If the patient chooses not to receive treatment, then life expectancy is usually less than a year.

WHAT ARE SOME TREATMENTS FOR AML?

There are different treatments. They include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant.

If a patient undergoes chemotherapy, it would take three or four cycles, which will take about four to five months.

The chemotherapy treatment can cost around $50,000.

This article was first published on September 5, 2016.
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